Sartre defined Giacometti as “the perfect existentialist artist, half-way between being and nothingness.”

From 1945 onwards, Giacometti created his best-known works. These were extremely stylized and elongated figures that reveal his new concerns regarding space and the distance between the model and the artist. He had returned to Paris, and the change of scale allowed him to express the anguish caused by the trauma of the war. “After the war, I was sick and tired of it all, and I swore to myself I wouldn’t let my statues shrink by even an inch. And then this happened: I managed to keep the height, but the statue was left very thin, like a rod, threadlike.”

The exhibition stresses the artist’s predilection for moldable materials like plaster and clay. While many artists use plaster only as an intermediate material in the production of a scupture (after modeling the object in clay, and before casting it in bronze), Giacometti often used it for both the initial form and the final piece.

When Giacometti was chosen to represent France, his adopted country, in the 1956 Venice Biennale, the artist reflected on how his work could be shown in such a space. He decided he would make new pieces to be exhibited alongside earlier ones, and created the series he entitled Women of Venice. This is an exceptional opportunity for visitors to view the whole set of eight sculptures made in plaster, and some painted, which have been housed since last June at the recently inaugurated Institut Giacometti in Paris.